Across livestock production systems, there are some breeds that dominate.
But a group of dedicated, passionate breeders are looking to make sure the smaller breeds don't get lost.
The Rare Breeds Trust of Australia is a national not-for-profit organisation, which has been working for the past 22 years to "secure the future" and "preserve the past" of the many smaller breeds in sheep, beef and dairy cattle, pigs, horses and poultry.
RTBA director Scott Carter, who is also the pigs species coordinator, said a big message the trust wanted to share was that all breeds had a purpose and once a breed was lost, it - and all its history - would be lost forever.
He said a major focus of the organisation was reviewing how many animals of each breed there were in Australia.
For sheep and cattle, this works by working with breed societies for a count on registered females.
For pigs, the count was harder, as most of the numbers are commercial.
"We've got eight pig breeds left in Australia and all eight are listed as rare, even the Large Whites and Landrace, the two most commonly used commercial breeds," Mr Carter said.
But using the tools available, the RBTA puts together a list of all breeds, ranked from critical - less than 150 breeding females in cattle, 300 in sheep - through to endangered, vulnerable, at risk - less than 750 cows and 1500 ewes - and recovering.
In Australia, there have been 12 cattle breeds lost, six sheep, four horse and five pig breeds.
University of Western Australia adjunct research fellow and RBTA secretary Catie Gressier has conducted research throughout the years on human and animal relationships.
She began studying livestock breed diversity after realising much of the work in this field has been done in seeds and crops, with less attention paid to livestock.
Dr Gressier says the loss of breed diversity does need to be discussed more.
"A big picture view is important to make sure we're not losing 10,000 years of natural and artificial selection for the bottom line, and to ensure we preserve animal genetic diversity for future food security," she said.
She said there had been several factors that led to extinction of livestock breeds - in just cattle, 184 breeds have already been lost globally.
This included the increased industrialisation of agriculture, which brought with it a shift in thinking of animals as commodities - even beyond them being a food source - and a need for increased productivity and profitability.
She said in pigs this resulted in wanting more piglets born, in beef, the goal was fast growth and feed conversion efficiency.
"Globally, the super profitable breeds dominate," she said.
She said there was a risk of dominant sires emerging, which could be carrying recessive traits that could emerge down the track.
But while these factors were important, Dr Gressier said there was a danger in overlooking the potential value of other breeds.
She said there were a number of older breeds that had adapted extraordinarily well to their local areas or could be hardier or have disease resistance, which could pay off in a changing climate.
Dr Gressier said it was also important to acknowledge consumer preferences could change, so it was important to avoid going too far down a particular path.
She pointed to the shift in pig breeds with breeds that produced good fat coverage being prized in the past, before consumer opinion change against fat, leading to a swing towards leaner pig breeds.
This has swung back again, somewhat, with intramuscular fat prized for its taste qualities.
"Consumer desires are very dynamic," she said.
More than anything, Dr Gressier said it was important to realise each individual breed had its particular qualities.
She pointed to Shropshire sheep, which had been in decline but was finding a growing market among orchardists as their smaller size meant less potential damage for trees, while also producing a beautiful tasting cut of lamb.
Mr Carter says the trust has a few ways of preserving the breeds, including promotion, but one long-term project is to develop a gene bank with genetic material of rare breeds stored.
"We do have a seedbank for plants but it's not available for livestock," he said.
He said the goal was to have enough diverse, quality, genetics of different breeds so they could be potentially be re-established if needed.
Mr Carter said the trust received no government funding and was reliant on membership and donations, with an auction another major fundraiser.
He said there was something else people could do.
"At the end of the day, the best way to save a rare breed is to eat it," he said.
UNIQUE BREEDS FIND OWN MARKET OPPORTUNITIES
Mr Carter's interest in rare breeds is not just confined to his commitment to the trust.
He runs heritage breed poultry, as well as Highland cattle and Belted Galloways, at his property at Nuriootpa, SA, under the prefix Amrabull Park.
"I've always liked breeds that are a little bit different," he said.
"They bring something unique to having livestock."
Mr Carter said as heritage breeds, the Belted Galloways and Highland cattle had good longevity as well as a long history of having the full carcase utilised, down to the hides and horns.
In recent years, both Highlands and Belted Galloways have joined the "recovering" list.
Mr Carter says these are good examples of changing trends impacting the market, with Highlands in particular finding demand internationally as "paddock ornaments".
"That won't last forever, so it's important to keep in mind what the use of the breeds actually are," he said.